Quantifying plant community change at Waterton Lakes National Park over the past 25 years

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Lloren, Jed Immanuel
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Plant communities are changing in response to natural and anthropogenic drivers. However, we know little about how different drivers have affected Rocky Mountain plant communities over the past few decades. In 2017, a wildfire burned 50% of the vegetation at Waterton Lakes National Park, located in Canada’s southern Rocky Mountains. Using re-surveys of vegetation plots established in the 1990s, I quantified changes in plant community diversity and composition over the past two decades. I found that fire severity interacted with human disturbance to affect species richness and community composition. I also found that burned and unburned plots are experiencing diverging trajectories. Herbaceous and short-lived species have become more prominent in burned plots, whereas unburned plots are becoming increasingly characterized by woody species. Ecologists should continue conducting legacy studies as they have the potential to expand our theoretical understanding of community assembly and inform management decisions.
Research Subject Categories::NATURAL SCIENCES::Biology::Terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecology::Terrestrial ecology , Dissertations, Academic , Forest biodiversity -- Effect of fires on -- Alberta , Forest ecology -- Alberta , Forest fires -- Environmental aspects -- Alberta , Nature -- Effect of human beings on -- Alberta , Plant-soil relationships -- Alberta , Soils -- Effect of fires on -- Alberta